On January 31, 2017, Acting SEC Chairman Michael Piwowar issued a statement instructing the SEC staff to reconsider whether its 2014 guidance on the conflict minerals disclosure rule is still appropriate and whether any additional relief for public companies is appropriate. Chairman Piwowar also opened a 45-day public comment period on all aspects of the SEC rule and subsequent guidance.
Some retailers have avoided the requirement to report to the SEC on conflict minerals because they are not “manufacturers” for purposes of the rule. But others who offer house brands or other white label products may be deemed manufacturers of those products under the rule, subjecting them to the rule’s full due diligence and reporting requirements. Affected retailers who wish to comment on the impact of the rule since it became effective in 2012 now have a formal mechanism to do so.